President-elect Joe Biden on Tuesday called out Donald Trump’s administration for bungling the COVID-19 vaccine rollout and laid out his own plans for quickly immunizing as many Americans as possible.
“The Trump administration’s plan to distribute the vaccine is falling behind ― far behind,” Biden said from Wilmington, Delaware.
“As I long feared and warned, the effort to distribute and administer the vaccine is not progressing as it should,” he said, adding that if the current pace continues, “it’s going to take years, not months, to vaccinate the American people.”
The pace of vaccinations has been much slower than promised, despite the Trump administration naming its vaccine effort “Operation Warp Speed.” Only about 1 million of the 9 million doses distributed so far have reportedly been administered, officials leading the rollout said Tuesday.
Biden said he’s searching for ways to increase the speed of immunization and wants to that ensure 100 million shots will have been administered by the end of the first 100 days.
It was also reported earlier this month that Trump’s administration repeatedly declined offers from Pfizer, the producer of one of the two Food and Drug Administration-approved coronavirus vaccines, for millions of additional doses. Now, the U.S. could be waiting until June or July for those vaccines while Pfizer fulfills its contracts with other countries.
“I’m going to move heaven and earth to get us going in the right direction,” the president-elect said, noting he will be invoking the Defense Production Act to speed up vaccine production.
Trump has been largely silent on the pandemic since losing his reelection bid to Biden last month, instead expending all his energy on propping up his baseless claims of voter fraud, even as his Republican allies drop their support of his crusade to overturn the election.
Meanwhile, the U.S. is suffering through the worst stage of the pandemic yet. Case counts, hospitalizations and deaths all remain high, though slightly lower than they were two weeks ago. There’s a good chance those numbers will skyrocket again following Christmas and New Year’s celebrations held despite warnings from officials, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci.
“I share the concern of President-elect Biden that as we get into the next few weeks it might actually get worse,” Fauci, the country’s leading infectious disease specialist, said Sunday.
Biden pleaded with Americans to heed warnings about the need for safety measures and called on Trump to change course and encourage them, too.
“Look, my ability to change the direction this pandemic starts in three weeks, with thousands dying every day between now and then,” he said. “If we just step up together, wear masks, socially distance, wash our hands, avoid large indoor gatherings ― I know all these are not easy to ask. But I’m asking you to make a sacrifice. You’re already making tremendous sacrifices every single day.”
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